Cheverus Stags Fall Sports Preview

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Sophia Pompeo had a terrific freshman season for Cheverus’ field hockey team. As a sophomore, Pompeo hopes to lead the Stags deep into the playoffs again.

More photos below.

FOOTBALL

Coach: Mike Vance (first year)

2015 record: 6-4 (Lost, 28-0, to Windham in Class A North semifinal

Top returning players: Rylan Benedict (Senior), Dominic Casale (Senior), Jack Casale (Senior), Kieran Conley (Senior), Joe Jalbert (Senior), Anthony Pirone (Senior), Griffin Watson (Junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 10 THORNTON ACADEMY, Sept. 23 @ Edward Little, Oct. 1 PORTLAND, Oct. 14 @ Scarborough, Oct. 22 WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “The preseason is going well. We’re still coming together. I have a lot of really good kids. We’re trying to create as much depth as we can. The seniors are key. They know how to stay within themselves. I hope we can come together and support each other. We’re just going to take it one practice at a time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After putting the cherry on top of his legacy sundae by reviving a struggling program and leading the Stags to 76 victories and a pair of Class A championships in his in his 10 years at the helm, John Wolfgram stepped away from high school football in April and turned the program over to Mike Vance. Vance spent the past decade as Cheverus’ defensive coordinator (he was named Class A North Assistant of the Year in 2015) and junior varsity coach. He also previously served as an assistant at Gorham, Scarborough and South Portland. Vance inherits a squad that isn’t viewed as a favorite, but one that will likely make some noise in the weeks to come.

On offense, Cheverus will put the ball in the hands of captain Jack Casale at quarterback. With Tre Fletcher having transferred to a prep school out of state, Benedict, another captain, and Watson will see the bulk of the carries at running back, while Dominic Casale and Conley, the third captain, are top receiving threats. Jalbert and Pirone anchor the line. Don’t expect the Stags to suddenly throw the ball all over the field, but it’s quite possible they’ll be a little more wide open than in the Wolfgram years. If Cheverus can produce a multi-faceted attack, it will be able to put up a lot of points.

Defensively, Conley and Jalbert will be stalwarts on the line. Benedict leads the linebackers. In the secondary, look for both Casales and Watson to wreak havoc. Vance’s background is on this side of the ball, so it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if the Stags remain very stingy.

Defending regional champion Portland and traditional contender Windham are the favorites this year in Class A North and for the first time in nearly a decade, Cheverus isn’t considered a team to beat, but opponents wouldn’t be wise to overlook the proud Stags. As the season progresses, this team will come together and by late October, Cheverus will likely find itself where it’s accustomed to being, playing in high stakes games.

BOYS’ SOCCER

Coach: Matt Andreasen (first year)

2015 record: 10-4-4 (Lost, 2-0, to Scarborough in Class A South Final

Top returning players: Nik Hase (Senior), Will Peterson (Senior), Luc Dionne (Junior), Hunter Johnson (Junior), Michael Nason (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 PORTLAND, Sept. 27 SCARBOROUGH, Oct. 4 GORHAM, Oct. 6 @ South Portland, Oct. 13 @ Deering

Coach’s comment: “The team will be extremely young this season. I could have as many as 10 underclassmen on the roster, with eight potentially starting. The midfield could start as many as five sophomores. What they lack in size, they compensate with skill, savvy and an ability to play together. Although a majority of last season’s starting lineup graduated, this year’s group is young and talented. We look to jump out of the gate and start positive and hopefully continue to get better throughout the course of the season. As always, our goal is to be peaking, playing at our highest level, in mid-to-late October. If that’s the case, I believe that we could be a difficult draw for someone in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus has made a habit of peaking at the right time the past two seasons. That will be the script again this fall under a new coach, Matt Andreasen, who replaces Colin Minte. Andreasen, the son of longtime Greely coach Mike Andreasen and the head coach of the Edward Little boys the past four seasons, came late to the job and is playing catch-up with a relatively inexperienced roster. There are reasons to believe the Stags will be just fine by October, however.

For starters, Peterson will replace reigning Cheverus Fall Male Athlete of the Year Jake Tomkinson in goal and will be a steady leader. Peterson will play in college and looks to continue the Stags’ excellence at that position. He’ll be helped defensively by Johnson and junior Chris St. John. Hase and Nason will be forces in the midfield and will be aided by sophomores Nolan Doherty and Tanner LaFlamme. Dionne is the striker and hopes to lead the offensive charge. Several other players will also get their opportunities in the weeks to come.

Cheverus again faces a daunting schedule in the best league in the state. Development will be as important as victories in the early going, as this team will stumble at times. The Stags know the recipe for October success, however, so don’t be surprised if when we get to the late rounds of the postseason, Cheverus is still standing.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Coach: Craig Roberts (fourth year, 14-25-6 overall record)

2015 record: 5-8-2 (Lost, 4-0, to Marshwood in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Katie Gordon (Senior), Emily Turner (Senior), Mackenzie Johnston (Junior), Michaela Jordan (Junior)

Pivotal games: Sept. 2 @ Portland, Sept. 7 MARSHWOOD, Sept. 21 WINDHAM, Sept. 23 THORNTON ACADEMY, Sept. 28 @ Scarborough, Oct. 5 @ Gorham, Oct. 12 @ Sanford, Oct. 14 DEERING, Oct. 18 @ Maine Girls’ Academy

Coach’s comment: “Due to low numbers in 2013, we now have a core of juniors and seniors who have been playing varsity soccer for three or four years. If they can form a cohesive unit with our newcomers, we hope to expand on our five wins from last year, earn a playoff berth and be more competitive in the playoffs than we’ve been.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last fall, Cheverus extended its postseason streak to 13 and this year’s team has what it takes to keep the good times rolling.

This season, the Stags’ offense will be led by Gordon (six goals in 2015), Johnston (five goals last season), Turner (an honorable mention league all-star a year ago) and newcomers Ally Tillotson (a senior who previously played at McAuley) and Emma Gallant (a freshman who could step right in and be a factor) will also be heard from. Jordan (a second-team all-star in 2015) anchors the back line and will get help from freshman Lauren Jordan. Junior Katie Boynton replaces all-star Hannah Tyson in goal.

Cheverus will do its best to navigate a tough schedule and hopes to win more than it loses. This is a group that could be very formidable by the end of the regular season. The Stags’ upside is very high.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach: Sally Cloutier (first year)

2015 record: 14-3 (Lost, 4-1, to Thornton Academy in Class A South Final)

Top returning players: Carrie Hight (Senior), Charlotte Noyes (Senior), Hannah Abbott (Junior), Kat Kane (Junior), Bella Booth (Sophomore), Sophia Pompeo (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Sept. 9 THORNTON ACADEMY, Sept. 13 @ Sanford, Sept. 15 SCARBOROUGH, Sept. 21 PORTLAND, Sept. 27 MASSABESIC, Sept. 29 @ Deering

Coach’s comment: “We have a young team with a couple seniors, a big junior class and some standout sophomores. We lost a ton from last year, so we’ll be rebuilding. We’re looking to capitalize on our speed and the stick skills we have. We need to develop our defense. I think we can contend and I’d be psyched if we get a playoff berth. It would be awesome to get that far.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After a highly successful stint which saw her team win 97 games, one regional championship and reach four regional finals in eight seasons, Amy Ashley left Cheverus to take over the Yarmouth field hockey program. She’s replaced by a coach with an impressive pedigree in her own right. Cloutier played for South Portland in the 1980s, back when the Red Riots were a powerhouse, then played at Boston University. She served as a graduate assistant at BU and later coached at camps and clinics and this is her first varsity position. She inherits a squad that had to part with all-state player Abby Ford, league all-star Emily Michaud and reigning Fall Female Athlete of the Year Becca Archer, but while the Stags are young, they still feature some very good and hungry players.

Pompeo had a breakout freshman campaign and was named to the league all-star team. She’s quick and skilled and scores some big goals. She and Booth, who also turned heads as a freshman, making the SMAA All-Rookie squad, will pace the offense. The midfield features the team’s two seniors and captains, Hight and Noyes, who have been lauded for their guidance of this young group. Abbott is the wild card. She could play every position but goalie and be a matchup nightmare. She’ll be used in various parts of the field and will play a key role in the team’s success. Kane, after a strong season in 2015, is back in goal.

Cheverus will undergo some growing pains in the weeks to come, but this is a team that should steadily improve and by the time October rolls around, won’t be an easy draw for anyone. The Stags are used to being one of the last teams standing. Don’t be surprised if this group saves its best for last.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Amanda Ruel (second year)

2015 record: 4-11 (Lost, 3-0, to MDI in Class A preliminary round)

Top returning players: Liz Jerome (Senior), Alexis Parsons (Senior), Mary Jerome (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: Sept. 2 @ South Portland, Sept. 6 FALMOUTH, Sept. 15 @ Biddeford, Sept. 20 @ Deering, Sept. 27 PORTLAND, Oct. 15 WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “I hope to make it past the preliminary round of the playoffs. Our team is young, but looking strong.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The young and improving Cheverus volleyball program has made the playoffs in two of the past three years and is aiming for its first winning record and first postseason victory this time around.

The Stags return a league all-star in Liz Jerome, an outside hitter. Mary Jerome (a middle hitter) and Parsons (middle hitter) are also back to provide stability and leadership. Look for juniors Emily Haley (outside hitter), Anna Olore (outside hitter) and Julia Pomerleau (middle hitter) to play big roles this season. Sophomores Madi Gieger and Zoe Watts will serve in specialist roles.

Cheverus has a few tough teams on its slate, but for the most part, the schedule is favorable and should help the Stags post a solid record. If Cheverus can get back to the playoffs, it might just be capable of turning some heads.

CROSS COUNTRY

Coach: Liana Rubinoff (first year)

2015 results:
(Boys) DNQ for Class A state meet (10th @ regionals)
(Girls) DNQ for Class A state meet (no score @ regionals)

Top returning runners:
(Boys) Steven Larkin (Senior), Logan McCarthy (Senior), Scout Tucker (Senior)
(Girls) Ashley Turner (Junior), Rosie Train (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “My biggest goal this season is to get both the girls’ and the boys’ teams to qualify for states. I have high hopes for my top three returning boys and I’m optimistic that the underclassmen will follow suit. I feel very lucky to have a scoring girls’ team this season with the increase in numbers. I hope to inspire my team to support and motivate one another. I tell my kids that no goal is substantiated without the will to achieve it. I will consider this a successful season if my team can unite, put their individual needs aside and run for their teammates.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus cross country has a new look this fall as former running standout Liana Rubinoff replaces Kristin Barry as coach. Rubinoff helped the Stags win the girls’ program’s first state title in 2009, graduated from Cheverus in 2010 and went on to graduate from Boston College. She served as an assistant to Barry last fall and has also worked with the indoor and outdoor teams. She inherits a program that holds a lot of promise.

The boys’ squad hopes to get to states after falling short a year ago. Leading the way will be Larkin, who along with the graduated Josh Veroneau, was the only individual to compete at states a year ago (posting the 77th-best time). Tucker (71st at last year’s regional meet) and McCarthy also have experience. Freshmen Miles Bergquist, Michael Luna and Jackson Wilson add depth. The Stags should be improved from a year ago and if all goes well, they’ll take part in the state meet.

On the girls’ side, after not having enough runners to score as a team in 2015, Cheverus won’t have that problem this time around and in fact, could be very competitive. Train (who posted the 18th best time at last year’s Class A state meet) and Turner (59th) made an impact as individuals in 2015 and will spark this year’s squad. They’re joined by senior Delphi Bourassa, a transfer from South Portland, and sophomore Hannah Galeucia, who ran distance back in the spring for outdoor track. Look for this group to come together as a team and turn heads in the weeks to come.

GOLF

Coach: A.J. Simokaitis (first year)

2015 results: 8-1 (2nd @ Class A state match)

Top returners: Kyle Cholod (Senior), Ryan McSorley (Senior), Conner MacDonald (Junior), Tom Higgins (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “This season looks to be promising for the squad. I look forward to seeing how we stack up against Falmouth and Scarborough. Ultimately, I have confidence in the team to make a good run at Natanis at the end of the year. First, we have to focus on one match at a time and be committed to working hard at practice. Our main objective is to be playing the best golf we can when October rolls around. Everything we do in practice and early in the season is meant to build towards that goal. ”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After a terrific regular season and fantastic effort at the state match, Cheverus is back for more in 2016 under the guidance of a new coach. Simokaitis was the Stags’ junior varsity coach in 2015, played for powerhouse Falmouth High School, attended the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina, played college golf at Assumption and the University of Southern Maine and works for the Portland Country Club and Maine State Golf Association. He inherits a talented and hungry squad.

Cheverus returns state match scorers McSorley (who shot a 78 at the team state match last fall, then shot a 93 at the individual championships), Cholod (83 at team states) and MacDonald (84 at team states). Higgins finished in a tie for 23rd place at the Class A individual state match with an 85. That makes for a pretty solid nucleus. Also returning is sophomore Jeremy Baker. Senior Noah Johnson and sophomores Richard Joyce and John Welch add depth and will look to make their mark.

The Stags will get to measure themselves against powerhouses Falmouth and Scarborough during the regular season and if all goes well at the qualifier, Cheverus will be in position to make another run at a championship in October. This group has what it takes to produce a most memorable campaign.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached atmhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Senior Rylan Benedict will be a top offensive weapon for a Cheverus football team which begins a new era this autumn.

Junior Jack Casale has many skills on the gridiron.

Senior Kieran Conley has a knack for disrupting opposing offenses.

Junior Griffin Watson will get to handle the football on a regular basis.

Junior Luc Dionne hopes to score many goals for a Cheverus boys’ soccer team which has advanced deep in the playoffs the past two years.

Senior Katie Gordon hopes to cap her career by leading Cheverus’ girls’ soccer team back to the playoffs.

Junior Mackenzie Johnston is another top scoring threat for the Stags.

Hannah Abbott has made a name for herself by scoring big goals her first two seasons. Look for her to continue her flair for the dramatic this fall.

Bella Booth had a strong freshman season for the Stags and will play a key role again this fall.

Senior captain Carrie Hight is a veteran leader on a young team.

Junior goalie Kat Kane made some big saves a year ago.

Charlotte Noyes is another senior leader for the Stags.

Rosie Train had the 18th-best time at the Class A girls’ cross country state meet as a freshman.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.